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Concerns Mount Over Boston Common Safety

Boston police have added walking and bicycle patrols after a weekend shooting and an increase in drug activity. And they're enforcing an ordinance against loitering after 11 p.m. WBUR's Sarah Bush reports.

TEXT OF STORY

SARAH BUSH: It's lunchtime on the Boston Common, and Jill Hayes is one of a crowd of families, tourists and business people enjoying the sunshine. But she says she doesn't always feel safe here.

JILL HAYES: Right now it's fine but I would never come here at night by myself. It's kind of sketchy looking sometimes.

BUSH: Charles Carley agrees. He says he's seen the safety and upkeep of the park decline.

CARLEY: I guess people wouldn't feel safe at night either because there's no cops around. Look around. You don't see not one cop in here.

BUSH: But Carley just missed Boston Police Officer Jerry Boyce who's conducting his daily rounds on horseback.

BOYCE: During the day we do have a lot of drug users that tend to hang out in the park, so we're trying to really keep a handle on that so that people don't want to come here. At night they have other issues because of gangs, kids hanging out.

BUSH: Police have increased their presence on the Common. This summer alone, they've made 40 drug busts. Officer Boyce attributes many of the drug problems to the homeless who hang out in the park. Many apparently homeless people sit or lie on the grass and benches.

Just the night before, Richard Weintraub says, police moved five people from the Common into shelters. He heads homeless services for the city, and says the number of homeless is silghtly up.

WEINTRAUB: We try to find ways to help them in any way possible. Getting them inside and working with them on some of the issues they may have.

BUSH: Weintraub says more homeless tend to sleep outside during the warmer weather.

For WBUR, I'm Sarah Bush.

This program aired on August 30, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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